In concrete beam bridges, the end diaphragm at the end of the bridge is a common structural component that connects the main beams and transfers the beam loads to the bridge bearings. In integral bridges the end diaphragm also retains the soil of embankments due to the absence of abutments. Cracking of the front surface on the end diaphragm has been detected in post-tensioned beam bridges in Finland and Sweden. Presumably the post-tensioning of the bridge and the shaping and detailing of the connection of the end diaphragm and main beam have an effect on cracking tendency. The aim of this study is to examine the structural behaviour and the cracking potential of end diaphragms using linear analysis of the post-tensioned bridge and to find measures to prevent the cracking.
The observations collected through field surveys are compared to results of linear FE analysis to clarify the cause of the cracking. The verification of model is performed by comparison of patterns of cracking observed in field surveys and the distribution of maximum tensile stresses in the FE model. With model variations, the effectiveness of measures for the prevention of cracking are observed.